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NICCRS
 

About the Society


The Nejat International Childhood Cancer Research Society is the personal response of two parents, Nejat and Elizabeth Munisoglu, to the death of their son, Nejat Munisoglu, Jr., from cancer at the age of 15.
 

By all accounts, Nejat Jr. was the quintessential American kid who typified the ‘melting pot’ that is American society: His father, a professional who had immigrated to the United States from Turkey; his mother, an American with family ties that could be traced back to John Hancock and the American Revolution. He was a charming, bright, all-around kid with a fascination for oceanography and the exploits of Jacques Cousteau, a love of sports, and had lots of friends. He was the picture of health, with freckled rosy cheeks, a full head of curly dark blond hair, and bright blue eyes full of promise.

Then, at the age of 13, came the diagnosis: cancer – embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.

Stunned, frightened, incredulous and devastated by the awful reality, the Munisoglu family was thrust into a world of children’s cancer that they had never known existed. To their amazement, they learned that in the U.S. cancer kills more children than any other disease. They learned that the biggest slice of the research funds “pie” is allocated to the adult cancers – breast, lung, prostate, etc. – with children’s cancer receiving a mere sliver in comparison. And, lastly, they learned that unless a child has access to the most advanced care available in the U.S. and Europe, chances of survival are grim indeed.

 

For two years their son received the most advanced treatment available, from the best pediatric oncology teams that anyone could hope for in two leading medical institutions. But it was too late, the metastasis was too widespread.

Determined to make a difference for other children facing cancer, Nejat and Elizabeth Munisoglu founded this Society. They decided to include their son’s name in the title, because the word “Nejat” is more than just a name. It is an ancient word found in both Farsi and Arabic. In Farsi it means “survival.” In Arabic it means “salvation.” Thus, while it serves to honor his life and memory, it also expresses hope for survival for all children afflicted by cancer.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Society is governed by a board of 6 volunteer Directors who donate their time and energy:

Gene Block, Chancellor, University of California at Los Angeles (ex officio member)
Hon. Elizabeth Munisoglu, Commissioner, Los Angeles County Superior Court
Allen D. Field, Retired attorney, former Bureau Director, District Attorney’s Office
Valerie Aenlle-Rocha, Deputy District Attorney, Grand Jury Advisor, Los Angeles County
Hon. Hector Guzman, Judge, Los Angeles County Superior Court


MEDICAL ADVISORY BOARD

For advice and assistance in the definition and implementation of short and long-term goals for the international outreach programs, the Nejat International Childhood Cancer Research Society’s activities benefit from the combined knowledge of a Medical Advisory Board, consisting of distinguished physicians known internationally.

Medical Advisors to the Society are:

Dr. Ted Moore, M.D. - full bio
Dr.Moore is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, serving concurrently as Clinical Director of the Division.

Dr. Gregory J. Del Zoppo, M.D., PhD. - full bio
Dr. Del Zoppo is Professor of Medicine (in hematology) and Adjunct Professor of Neurology at the University of Washington.

Dr. Dr. Noah Federman, M.D. - full bio
Dr. Federman is Director of the Pediatric Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma Program at UCLA, which is a component of the UCLA Sarcoma Program, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA. s

Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, MD, MSHS - full bio
Dr. Casillas is a pediatric oncologist, associate professor of pediatrics, Director of the Pediatric Cancer Survivorship Program at UCLA, co-director of the UCLA-LIVESTRONG™ Survivorship Center of Excellence, medical director of UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program, and a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research.